Around the Pier: Forty Years Strong


Connie Fey was an undergraduate student at San Diego State University (SDSU) when she first set foot in a Scripps Institution of Oceanography lab. She was hired on a Sea Grant scholarship to work for one semester in the Data Collections and Processing Group. The job took Fey to sea on a research cruise for California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) and taught her ocean science skills from data processing and zooplankton identification to seawater analysis and core slicing.

At the time, Fey could have never anticipated that the short-term program designed to entice young women to the field of oceanography would forever define her professional path. Forty years later, her career at Scripps is still going strong.

“I was very lucky, whenever funding ran out on one project, I somehow managed to find something else at Scripps,” said Fey. “Sometimes for just a couple of months, sometimes for just a cruise, and sometimes for years.”

Six months after returning to her regular schedule of classes at SDSU, Fey received a letter from Scripps research biologist Ed Brinton, whom she had worked for that summer. He was asking her to consider applying for a part-time lab assistant position in his lab at Scripps while she finished her Bachelor’s degree at SDSU. She got the job; the first of many on her professional path at Scripps.

Over the past four decades, Fey held a range of staff research positions at Scripps, collaborating with more than a dozen different supervisors and principal investigators. She’s been at Scripps long enough to remember the days when the Scripps Pier was made of wood and the public aquarium consisted of only 18 tanks.

Today, Fey continues her career at Scripps as a full-time programmer/analyst with the Environmental Health & Safety unit at UCSD, working part-time sorting and identifying copepods with Scripps biological oceanographer Mark Ohman in the Pelagic Invertebrate Collection.

In November, 507 employees were honored by UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox at the annual Service Awards for their achievement of 10 or more years of service to the university. Fey’s commendable 40 years at Scripps was the longest service milestone recognized at the ceremony.

“My years with Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been the most challenging and rewarding of my professional career,” said Fey.

–Shannon Casey

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